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Blazing the Trails: Towards Illinois' First Point-Source Expansion in an Urbanized Watershed with a TMDL in Implementation

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The Village of Itasca, Illinois, found its plans for a needed expansion of the Village's POTW repeatedly challenged by rapid changes in the regulatory climate in Illinois as a whole and in its watershed, Salt Creek, in particular. In late 1999 the Village learned that Salt Creek would become a part of the first-round TMDLs to be developed in the State, which meant that the Village had to choose between accepting conservative effluent limitations or agreeing to delay the already designed expansion. The Village chose the delay, and as it waited, the power of environmental advocacy groups (EAGs) to challenge POTW expansions in Illinois grew tremendously, in large part due to the EAGs' success in promoting the adoption in Illinois of one of the most restrictive “antidegradation” standards in the U.S. And when after four years the draft TMDL report became available to the public, it recommended that no POTW expansion on Salt Creek be allowed. The Village met these challenges by engaging the EAGs and other stakeholders in devising a better plan for its POTW expansion and by becoming engaged as a stakeholder in finding a better implementation plan for the Salt Creek TMDL. After several years, these active efforts produced results. In early summer 2009, the expanded discharge permit with acceptable effluent limitations is under public notice with excellent prospects for timely issuance. The Village is completing the design of a POTW expansion project improved in several aspects, including its overall environmental impacts, and expects to begin construction in the fall of 2009. The Village's first-hand experience with effective stakeholder involvement in securing a point-source expansion within a groundbreaking TMDL in a State with influential EAGs should offer useful insights to other stakeholders in search of viable solutions in similarly challenging circumstances.
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Keywords: Adaptive implementation; Illinois; NPDES permit; POTW expansion; Salt Creek; antidegradation; environmental advocacy groups; phased approach; point source; public participation; stakeholder input; technical advisory group

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2009-01-01

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